When the Son of Man Comes, Will He Find Faith on the Earth?

Luke 18:8

November 11, 2007 | Brian Bill

Today is Veteran’s Day.  Could I ask those of you who have served our country to please stand?  Some of you have a son or daughter or spouse or parent in the service right now.  Could you please stand as well so we can express our gratitude?  I came across a very sad statistic this week.  Did you know that one in four homeless people in the U.S. are vets, even though they make up only 11% of the population? 

Information like this is unsettling, and we’ve certainly been unsettled by some of things that the Savior has said in the Gospels during this series called, “What Jesus Wants to Know: Questions Christ Asked.”  Here’s where we’ve been so far:

  • Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
  • How many loaves do you have?
  • Has it not been written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer?’
  • Do you want to get well?

And today the question we’re going to ponder is a bit perplexing and certainly unsettling.  Turn in your Bibles to Luke 18:8: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

When Jesus looks at the church in America, what does He see right now?  Have you ever wondered about the state of the church in our country today?

I read a study this week from SermonCentral.com in which this question was asked: “Do you think the church in America is appropriately reflecting the character of God?”  Only 13% of the respondents said “yes.”

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”  Three truths stand out to me from this question.

1. Christ is coming. 

It’s way too easy to play and not pray

Note that it doesn’t say “if” He comes, but “when” He comes.  The Bible indicates that He will come “like a thief in the night,” when we least expect Him.  If we back up a bit to Luke 17:26-28, while people are partying and thinking only of themselves, just like in the days of Noah, the Son of Man will come.  It’s way too easy to play and not pray.

Friends, while we don’t know when Jesus is coming, we know He can come at any time.  Having said that, Matthew 24:14 indicates that His return is somehow contingent on our obedience to the Great Commission: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

2. The faithful will be few. 

The question Jesus asks expects a negative answer.  When Jesus returns will he find faith on the earth?  He will find more people faltering than faithful.  This reminds me of Psalm 12:1: “Help, Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men.”

3. Persecution will be prevalent. 

We know from other passages that persecution will become prevalent the closer we get to Christ’s coming.  Some of us have bought into the belief that once we have Jesus in our life, everything will go great.  Maybe we’ve even thought that we should be successful and financially well off.  Actually, the Bible says that the exact opposite will happen for those who honor and obey Christ.  Listen to Acts 14:22: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus never taught the “prosperity gospel,” but He did preach the “persecution gospel.”  Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

John Stott suggests that we should not be surprised if anti-Christian hostility increases, but rather be surprised if it does not.  In John 15:20, Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”  In John 16:33 He adds, “…In this world you will have trouble…”  The Augsburg Confession defines the church as the community of those “who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel’s sake.”  Speaking of their futures, in Matthew 24:9, Jesus told the disciples that they would face incredible struggles: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”  

2 Timothy 3:12 says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  Could it be that the American church in general, does not face persecution like believers in other countries do, because we are not living godly lives?  Philippians 1:29: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.”  When Paul wrote to the young church in Thessalonica, he reminded them that Timothy was sent to them, “so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.  You know quite well that we were destined for them.  In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.  And it turned out that way, as you well know” (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4).  Peter, after witnessing all that Jesus went through, wrote in 1 Peter 4:12: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Since Christ is coming again, how can we help the faithful few who are being persecuted for their faith around the world?  Actually, there’s more than just a few who are being persecuted.  Many estimate that there are up to 200 million suffering Christians around the world today.

Examples of Persecution

It’s sometimes difficult to get a handle on this because many of us don’t know any persecuted believers.  This came home to me recently when Ray Pritchard shared about a young pastor in China that he knows.  This man has been distributing the Chinese version of Anchor for the Soul in China.  Last month Ray received a brief email from this man: “Because of some unknown reason, probably I will be arrested tomorrow as house church pastor…so just want you pray for this: 1). His will be done; 2). Show His mercy and grace to His own church in case of my arrest; 3). Show His mercy and grace to my wife and 2-year-old daughter.”  

A couple days later Ray received this email: “It was too bad yesterday, even when they called me before my arrival, their voice and attitude was hard and cruel and I did have fear in my heart.  At that moment, after I made a simple prayer I got encouragement from His Word: Esther 4:16: ‘If I die, I die.’  After that prayer I got peace…they just kept giving me warning and warning, and let me leave.  It was a little like Acts 4:21 when the apostles were warned and let go free…what I said here does not mean that I have faith, or that I am brave.  I should confess that HE DO GIVE ME FAITH during the moment I am weak, and that your prayers are powerful.”  I love how he signs it [I have changed his name].  “Michael, your body in Christ.”

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

Part of our problem as American believers is that we’ve become so spiritually soft that we don’t take what is happening to other believers seriously.  As we saw in the opening video, church is not all that important to a lot of people here.  Our youth pastor told me about a teenager who, after viewing a DVD with the other students about the underground church in Vietnam, said something like this: “Nobody really cares.  Were they really listening?”  I believe that this church cares…we just need to be informed, reminded and mobilized.  

In light of that, we’re going to watch a reenactment produced by the Voice of the Martyrs called “Sarah’s Blood.”  I want to warn you ahead of time that because this is based on a true story, it is intense and quite graphic.  I strongly encourage parents with young children to step out.  You may want to just go into the old kitchen so you can still hear the words and then come back in when it’s over in seven minutes. 

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

The context in which today’s question comes relates to an account of a widow who practiced persistent prayer in Luke 18:1-8: “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’  For some time he refused.  But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’  And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?  Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” 

Let me quickly share some principles from this passage.

1. The purpose behind this parable is for us to be persistent in our praying

It’s stated right at the beginning: “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  Notice that “she kept coming” and “bothering” and was starting to “wear him out.”

2. We will become persistent when we realize there are no other solutions.

She had no other recourse.  Friends, we won’t pray until we recognize our desperate need.  Some of us don’t pray simply because we don’t think we need to.

3. God is never bothered by believers and will not put off persistent prayers. 

He is not at all like this unjust judge.

4. Persistence shows how much we love those who are persecuted.

We are to “cry out to Him day and night.”  I heard someone say that we should practice P.U.S.H. prayers – Pray Until Something Happens.

5. Delay doesn’t mean denial. 

Jesus will come and bring justice.  Don’t become weary in your waiting.

6. Persistent prayer honors God because it expresses our complete dependence on Him.

When we’re relentless in our requests we demonstrate our reliance on God.

Am I fervent or am I faint in prayer?

7. The main thing Jesus looks for is faith. 

Remember that we don’t need a lot.  All we need is a little faith in a big God.  The question really is this: Am I fervent or am I faint in prayer?

Prayer Time

We’re going to spend some time praying right now.  You’ll see nine different slides appear on the screen, with each one highlighting a prayer request from a specific country.  Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”   Let’s pray…and then determine to persist in our praying every day.  

We honored vets at the beginning.  I wonder how many of you are ready to serve in the spiritual battle.  Are you ready to be counted?  “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”  The key issue is not whether we can wait until Jesus returns; the real question is whether or not He will find us faithful when He comes back.

There are really three questions to ponder in this passage.

  • Will not God bring about justice?  The answer is yes.
  • Will God keep putting us off?  The answer is no.
  • Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth?  This answer is yet to be determined.  

Here’s a probing question.  If Jesus were to come back today, would he find you living out your faith?  Are you a born again believer?  If you’re saved, have you been baptized?  If not, why not? Baptism is a biblical way to express your obedience.  In many countries to be baptized is the equivalent of signing a warrant for your death.  Are you ready to die to self and live for the Savior?

Listen to the words of Jesus to the church of Sardis in Revelation 3:2-3: “Wake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”  If you’re ready to remember the persecuted and you’re committed to live out your faith with fervor as you pray with persistence, would you please stand right now? 

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?